Review – Audiotopsy: Natural Causes

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Napalm Records
  • Release Date: October 2nd, 2015
  • Genre: Alternative Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

It’s been a while since I happened to take a look at some music that’s a bit out of my wheelhouse. I’ve had a few oddballs hit the inbox, but nothing really appealed to me in a way to made me think it’d be worth a shot, or at least not what I expected. However, during an on-line chat with Typhon from Crown of Vierys, the topic of the new Audiotopsy album came up in passing. This was a group I had heard the name of on occassion this year, but wasn’t ever too interested in seeking them out until this talk. Mainstream rock or metal bands anymore rarely hold a lick of promise beyond the defining groups that dabbled more in the realm of what we consider groove metal and were given that dreaded spat upon “nu-metal” title because it somehow managed to appeal to a wider audience, eventually being bastardized to what we have today. But, given the legacy of it’s members, I hopped to the press pages and, sure enough, there it sat. Natural Causes was waiting for me, completely overlooked due to a flood of press releases I can never keep under control. So, what better a way to step outside the box of my comfort zone than to check out this mash-up of former members of three bands I have varying degrees of appreciation and respect towards?

Audiotopsy is composed of former members of Mudvayne, Hellyeah, and Skrape. The latter two I’ve owned a release from at some point, while the former is a band I loved back in the day, and still get a good deal of enjoyment out of when it comes to their first two major label releases and independent debut EP (which later saw reissue just before their second full-length dropped). In fact, they were one of the first bands I ever saw play live due to their run on the Tattoo the Earth festival. Admittedly, there was longing for a little more of an L.D. 50 or The End of Things to Come influence, but, sadly, this isn’t really what awaits the listener, though some of the later Mudvayne signatures were present, such as during “All We Know” which will have you waiting for Chad Gray to start shouting instead of Skrape‘s Billy Keeton. This isn’t to say he does a bad job though. For what this band is going for, he presents a good range that can help the atmosphere of the track along, if one does exist. This is one of them, carrying a hint of psychedelic rock, a trait confirmed with the nearly four minute bong hit that is the conclusionary title track, laced with the aforementioned modern alternative metal sound and additional vocal layering that helps the trippy factor out a little more.

“LYLAB”, however, had me reminiscing about early Tool and Deftones most of the time. The upbeat hallucinogenic aural landscapes, enhanced by what sounds like an additional organ note or two in the background of the main verses that carry themselves with a bit of Mindless Self Indulgence flair, was quite peculiar, and in a good way. It’s an odd mixture of eclectic reminiscing and attitude driven nineties radio friendly metal mind sets that actually leaves you wishing the band would have gone one way or the other with it, and not both crammed into one track, especially heading into “The Calling”. Again we find that happier attitude in the verses that suddenly crash into bulkier chords for the chorus, and some hardcore riffs acting more like bridges that can overstay their welcome at times.

Audiotopsy

But if you want an example of the band’s heavier capabilities, “Distorted” is a good place to start. The electronic drum effects work to fill up the somewhat emptier verses of the song a little more without really detracting from that intentional atmosphere. It also helps to build up the aggression behind the chorus, which is pretty strong compared to some of the previous tracks on the release. There is a lighter passage that hits approaching three minutes in that is a bit pointless in existence, but remains the only element that keeps with the band’s aesthetic on this one. So much of the lighter, psychedelic aspect behind the album seems to be dropped at this point for bulkier, bass driven hostility that anyone looking for that early Mudvayne flair, or even a more violent Skrape presence will warmly embrace here, as well as on “Darken the Rainbow”, a song that sometimes could pass for a metalcore track birthed from the imagination of Ronnie James Dio in the mid-2000’s if he had a bad day and couldn’t stop brooding over it.

Basically, Natural Causes is a collection of all the defining sounds of alternative rock and “nu-metal” puked into a brown paper bag that some jackass decided to blow up and pop over your head while you slept. If you ever watched the Mr. Bean television series or saw the airplane sickness scene from Bean: The Movie, then you know where this comparison should be headed. A lot of this sounds terrible, and when you break the band down, it honestly should be. However, in their defense, there is a redeeming factor (as small a unique trait as it may be much of the time) to this effort that does set it apart from the rest of the mainstream fodder, and it’s that the band really does try to be a little more mature with their material, and even progressive with it to an extent, which is respectable at the very least. If anything, Audiotopsy is doing something a little different in a way that does present a bit of a unique sensation to a style template overly abused and commercialized, all the while still confining themselves to those very restrictions for whatever reason. The potential exists for Audiotopsy to create something more on the worthwhile side instead of ending up the new flavor of the month, which, sadly, is what Natural Causes mostly winds up coming off as.

Audiotopsy

Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records via Freeman Promotions.